Boeing Charters Antonov For Engine Shuttle

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Boeing is looking to Russia to help keep the production schedule for its 787 Dreamliner assembly lines in January. The company needs to airlift engines from the General Electric plant in Columbus, Ohio, to its factories in North Charleston, South Carolina, and Everett, Washington, to prevent falling behind in orders. There’s only one aircraft in regular service that can handle the engines, which weigh as much as 36,000 pounds. Russian Airline Volga-Dnepr operates An-124 transports and takes outsized loads all over the world but it can’t legally do the engine shuttle.

Only an American carrier is allowed to fly point-to-point within the U.S. and Volga-Dnepr has to apply for an “emergency exemption” from the Department of Transportation to do the work and has asked for up to 10 flights. “Failure to deliver the engines by air could delay production and subsequent delivery of Boeing airplanes, which would cause financial harm to GE Aviation, Boeing and their customers,” Volga-Dnepr said in its application. The aircraft, which has payload of 330,000 pounds, and the airline were granted approval to do eight engine flights in December.